Impaired mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) in liver tissue has been hypothesised to contribute to the development of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is unknown whether OXPHOS capacities in human visceral (VAT) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) associate with NAFLD severity and how hepatic OXPHOS responds to improvement in NAFLD. In biopsies sampled from 62 patients with obesity undergoing bariatric surgery and nine control subjects without obesity we demonstrate that OXPHOS is reduced in VAT and SAT while increased in the liver in patients with obesity when compared with control subjects without obesity, but this was independent of NAFLD severity. In repeat liver biopsy sampling in 21 patients with obesity 12 months after bariatric surgery we found increased hepatic OXPHOS capacity and mitochondrial DNA/nuclear DNA content compared with baseline. In this work we show that obesity has an opposing association with mitochondrial respiration in adipose- and liver tissue with no overall association with NAFLD severity, however, bariatric surgery increases hepatic OXPHOS and mitochondrial biogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2931
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2022


  • Adipose Tissue/pathology
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Humans
  • Liver/pathology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease/pathology
  • Obesity, Morbid/complications
  • Obesity/complications
  • Organelle Biogenesis
  • Respiration


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